Data Portability

Posted: 1/13/2008 9:21:00 PM
Data portability is about more than social networks. It's about progress and productivity.
All the fuss about Data Portability in the news lately is a much bigger issue than names and email addresses. Data Portability is about making your information easier for disparate systems to access both within and beyond your control.

One of my clients recently needed access to information from multiple vendors. They were in the business of reselling similar products and helping users find the best price. Part of the job was pulling the pricing and product information into a vast database that we could search through to find the exact match for the customers' needs and help them decide which one to purchase.

After contacting the vendors, there were about 10 of them, the conversations were all pretty much the same -- either it was too complicated for them to provide the data or they didn't have it outside their proprietary systems. The smoothest process in most cases involved someone from Company A calling someone from Company B and asking them what the current values were.

Such a process is horribly inefficient and prone to compounded data entry mistakes. Had Company B simply provided the data in XML, CSV, or some other sort of flat file, the process would have been very simple. But they didn't, in most cases, because it isn't simple to do that. Many systems might have the ability to export data, but how do you automate the process and how do you make that exported data available to users securely over the web?

Sharing data should be simple and painless. With Qrimp it's as simple as modifying the URL. For example, on the Qrimp demo site, you can view a list of fuel economy by vehicle in HTML or fuel economy in XML or CSV that you can easily import into your custom application. You can even create custom formats for RSS Feed Syndication, JSON and more.

If you have security enabled on your information and don't want just anyone looking at it, you can create a username and password. The organization with which you want to share information then makes two requests. The first passes the username and password and receives a customer user token that it uses to make subsequent requests.

Qrimp didn't exist while I was working for those clients, but if it had, they would have easily saved tens of thousands of dollars in development costs. The companies with the products would have saved money as well and increased exposure for their products much quicker. In this industry, time is money.

This was my motivation for building Qrimp. Not only will it save companies thousands, even millions of dollars, but it will help them bring these products to market much faster.